DALLAS - Buying and selling practices and working more effectively with high net-worth clients is critical for advisors, according to speakers at the Raymond James Financial Services annual national conference.

“Don’t let a little nuance cost you a major deal,” said Scott Brown, an Orlando-based Raymond James wealth manager who bought three practices in the past several years that now total $75 million in assets under management.

Brown said too many potential buyers get hung up on sums as low as $1,000, which prevent deals from getting done.

“You have to remember you’re buying someone’s life work,” he said. “I got my deals done because I didn’t feel I had to beat the other person up. I’m not saying pay double what you should, but if the seller’s price is reasonable you can make it work.”

While others walked away from buying the firms he eventually bought, Brown said he paid a total of $245,000 for the practices which now generate $500,000 in recurring revenue.

Standard multiples, such as paying one times non-recurring revenues and 2.3 times recurring revenues, are less important than negotiating a price based  on variables such as the average age of the firms' clients, the size and number of accounts and how long the firm’s owner will stick around, Brown said.

Scott Curtis, Raymond James Financial Services' president, said improving “operational efficiencies” was a primary concern for the firms’ advisors. He said both buyer and seller in the negotiations could benefit from a third-party mediator, a role often played at Raymond James Financial by its Practice Planning and Acquisitions Group.

BUILDING HNW RELATIONSHIPS

For advisors looking to increase their business with high net-worth clients with over $2 million in investable assets, make the relationship personal and inclusive, said Gerry Klingman, who runs a $1.3 billion practice in New York City.

High net-worth clients “want help with all of their important non-portfolio decisions,” he said. “They want a wealth manager, not just a money manager and they want help with the people they care about the most.”

A personal connection with clients shouldn’t be just about business, he added.

“I text clients all the time, but never about business,” Klingman said. But he said he makes sure to be in touch with top clients about their portfolios at least once every 90 days.

Knowing advisors have a process and service model, a team approach, an investment model and thoughtful outlook on the economy and the markets are also high on wealthy clients’ wish list, Klingman said.

What high net-worth don’t want, he said, are pitch books and quarterly investment reports, which he called “the stupidest concept in our business” for undermining the concept of long-term financial planning.